Oh, Paris. The city has been immortalized in art, song, film and literature, not to mention in the hearts of millions of style-obsessed girls the world over. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? What tips and secrets can I pass on that you haven’t read one hundred other places before?
In the past few years, I’ve got to know the French capital rather well. Between family holidays, work trips and weekend jaunts with my girlfriends, I feel qualified to tell you, if not what you should do when you go, at least what I like to do. Last month I spent three glorious days in Paris with a great friend, and while I was there, captured my favourite places, activities and traditions with my trusty iPhone. So without further ado, here are my Paris Rules to Live By:
Come on, did you think something else was going to be first? Pshaw. Whenever I’m in Paris I always hit up Le Bon Marché (24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris), my favourite department store on earth (with the possible exception of London’s Liberty). LBM was the first department store in the world, and it’s still tops in terms of selection, service and pure, unadulterated glamour.
I also love fighting over cut-price French beauty products at the (in)famous discount drugstore City Pharma (26 Rue du Four, 75006 Paris), and browsing in all the little jewelry shops in the Haute Marais. You’ll need a steely resolve to conquer the former, and a fat wallet for the latter!
You’re in Paris, of course you’re going to treat yourself! A butter croissant here, a pastel-hued macaron there, none of it counts when you’re on holiday. On past trips the macaron has been my treat of choice, but as of last month, I’m a convert to the eclair. L’Eclair du Genie (14 Rue Pavée, 75004 Paris) sells beautiful, flavourful creme-filled treats which can only be described as edible works of art. My friend and I shared a salted caramel one as well as a lemon, and both were incredible. I can’t wait for my next trip there (three weeks and counting!) to sample some more.
In Paris, you’re always discovering new sights and interesting places. One of my all-time favourite discoveries is L’Institute du Monde Arabe (1 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris). Not only is the building architecturally interesting (check out the aperture windows on the south facade, as well as Zaha Hadid’s futuristic pavilion, originally commissioned by Chanel), but the museum inside has some fascinating exhibits. My favourite part? The view from the rooftop terrace, which is spectacular and (shhhh keep this to yourself) 100% free.
The nightlife in this city is something else. While the skinny-jeans-and-facial-hair crowd can be found in all the hipster bars by the Canal St. Martin, my favourite hangout is actually all the way east, in the 20th arrondissement Philipe Stark’s boutique-but-budget hotel Mama Shelter (109 Rue de Bagnolet, 75020 Paris) is a great place to stay, but even if you’ve got digs elsewhere, take my advice and go to the bar. The scene is cool, the music is great, the bartenders are good-looking and friendly (heeey C & F! Stay cool you guys ;)) and the cocktails are super tasty. What more could you ask for?
While exploring a new city on foot is nothing groundbreaking, I tend to take things to the extreme. I’ve been known to pound the Parisian pavement all day long (with requisite breaks for pastry and wine, of course), and never tire of discovering new areas to wander through. Bizarrely perhaps, I particularly like walking in the famous cemeteries of Paris: they’re beautiful, peaceful, and, if you like hunting down the graves of famous people, really fun. On this trip I discovered Père Lachaise (16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris), which on a gorgeous Spring morning, croissant in hand, was all of the above and more.
With all the exploring, eating, drinking and dancing you’re doing, you’ll need to take a breather now and then. If the weather’s fine, head to the Jardins du Luxembourg (6th arrondissement, 75006 Paris) with the rest of Paris and try to grab a patch of grass or an iconic green garden chair. People-watching at its finest.
Above all else, be sure to celebrate your time spent in the City of Lights. Go on, have a glass of champagne (or three). View of the Eiffel Tower optional (but highly recommended!)